Making a case for Sam Gagner at $5M a year isn’t hard to do, but for the Oilers it’s more difficult to find a way to include him in their future at that number. Well beyond $5M? Almost impossible.


The case for Gagner making 5 large has been made ably at ON in recent days:

  • Robin Brownlee: "I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that Gagner is a reasonable buy at $1 million less a season than Hall and Eberle just signed for. That means $5 million a season.Ka-ching. Pay the man."
  • Jonathan Willis: "My view is that I’d be comfortable signing Gagner at five million per season over five years, but that I’d be calling Grabovski’s agent just in case."

I’d also draw your attention to Tyler Dellow’s summary of the situation (here) and his conclusion "deferring this issue by letting the arbitrator deal with it doesn’t seem likely to me to produce a better result. Make a longer term bet on him now seems like a reasonably smart bet to make to me."


The Oilers have five ‘impact’ players who could reasonably be regarded as having superior futures to Gagner: they are Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz. Hall and Eberle are signed long term for $6M per year, and that’s probably the organizational ‘outer marker’ for contracts.

Assuming that the club signs Nuge and J Scultz long term for $5M+ (or near) in the next 12 months, and have Gagner come in around $5M as well, the Oilers will be looking at about $27-29M for their five best players when the Yakupov contract comes up for review. This assumes the Nuge is willing to sign for less than $6M, and that my friends is a large assumption.

The cap will go up next year, and if it hits $70M plus then the pressures will be eased; however, signing Sam Gagner long term with a no trade mean Craig MacTavish could box himself in if:

  • he signs Gagner to a multi-year deal with a no trade clause for the free agent years
  • the cap goes up, but does not sky rocket
  • Gagner performs below his established level

These are legit concerns, and things MacT must measure as he readies to sign Sam Gagner.


I think the Oilers call in forensics on this, pore over the numbers, and deliver a long term contract shy of $5.25M per year. Sam Gagner has been consistent and is entering his prime. Buying an uptick in performance is a good bet.

We wait.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Here is normal setup for the process . Management usually has two arbitrators it likes , and union and players usually only one . Each side chooses ones they feel are more condusive to each side , Advantage management right off the bat . Gagner being nbr.1 will probably get a management choice . Everything will be taken into account – good and bad . Union always asks for more than what they know they can get , it’s just part of the process . Management makes it’s final offer and arbitrator knows what it is generally . Wiggle room from Management offer at this stage is minimal and arbitrator has to take that into account . Arbitrator will make a short term decision that he hopes will lead them to a resolution by mutual common ground at a later date . In other words get back to fruitfull negotiation during that compulsory arbitration ruling and period . In a nutshell , it is only a temporary decision not a long term one , and thus should not be very long .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    See this going either way. Sam signs a 5 yr 22.5 million dollar deal in the morning, and we’re all left scratching our heads wondering why we got so worked up about it. Or, the other way, Sam saying bring it all on Oiler fans by pushing for that 5.25+ deal.

    If I was making that decision, i’d be offering him that 22.5/5yr option at 9 this evening, or call in sick tomorrow (walk away). Good thing it’s Sam Gagner we’re discussing here, and not one of the all important fab 5.

    Can somebody wake me when this is over [yawn]

      • Quicksilver ballet

        We know he’ll likely be getting close to that over the next 5 yrs. Do you think he earns that wearing the blue orange and white?

        Screams of the Horcoff Hemsky deals all over again to me. Maybe an Arb 10 over 2 yr decision would allow them to keep their options open.

        • Craig1981

          I actually hope so. I think he is a standup guy and an great fit for the Oil.
          I think this is very different than the other 2. He is 23, which is very different than Horcoff at 29. It was always known Horcoff was not a high end scorer (aside from a few fools). And Hemsky was coming of a bunch of injuries and a terrible year.

          *Arb is only for 1 year so 10 over 2 is not possible

    • Mark-LW

      Ya. We will go through development pains with Gagner, and right when he’s in his prime we will replace him with two twenty year old prospects.

      Sounds like a smart plan.

  • 24% body fat

    $5 Million x 3 years with a NTC. Thats my prediction. Hopefully the cap substantially rises in the next 3 years as I believe this is an overpay. And Yah i get as a UFA he might command $5.75+ x whatever years. There’s always some GM willing to pay more then what a player should get.

  • Citizen David

    Have people lost their minds?! You don’t want to trade away a 23 year old center with 414 GP and 0.62 PPG! His best years are ahead of him. Absolute lunacy…